Its winter at the dairy farm

Its winter in paradise and the deciduous trees have their lost their leaves and look forlorn. 


But the view never ceases to amaze no matter what the season.


and the ever reliable roosters never fail to wake at 3am


Pretty aren’t they but I wish they didn’t find my front veranda steps so appealing. Chook poo in all the wrong paces. Let me warn you boys I am not impressed and may need to take aggressive action sooner rather than later 

On the farm we are in the middle of a green drought and what that means is even though it looks green we haven’t got enough grass for our cows. This situation is a direct result of months of extended rain events that stopped us seeding our winter grasses on time. This means we have to feed the cows something else equally as delish and nutritious

So this means lots of this stuff – prime quality lucerne or cereal hay IMG_1287

gets carted around the farm to feed our heifers (young stock) our dry cows (period between milking and calving) and our babies.

We have enough grass to feed the milking cows once a day.

Cows in Sproules Gully

Its steep on them there hills

And twice a day the milkers rely on Michael or his brother David carting this machine around to feed them.

Mixer Wagon

Michael parks his current mode of transport at back gate to call in for breakfast

This is a mixer wagon. You can fill it with all sorts of goodies which it munches up into “delish and nutrish” for dairy cows and you feed it out like this so nothing gets wasted (or as little as possible). 

Winter can be depressing cant it? Gardens often look so bleak. 

The Garden Room

So I have filled my winter garden with bulbs and annuals that flower under the deciduous trees


and lots of camellias to brighten our day


Lets hope next year brings better milk prices and less large Autumn rainfall events and the grass looks like this in every paddock in winter. One can hope 

Greener than Green

Welcome back grass

Till death us do part

The trials and tribulations of the last 18 months have left us questioning our resolve to get up every day to help feed the world. See previous post

2011 started with a supermarket price war instigated by Coles that used “free” milk as a customer traffic driver with a laughable promise by Coles that this would not affect farmers

In March we had the 1 in 50 year flood and the heartbreak that brings including being utterly powerless to save one of our most adorable cows when she was swept into the floodwaters and found herself stuck in a drain with no chance of survival.


Simola (pictured with Emma) lost her life in the March 2011 flood

Then all the Dairy Farmers (who supply National Foods) suppliers in our region felt the impact of the milk price wars with a 30% drop in their allocated quotas as well as a drop in farm gate milk price

Always looking for the opportunity we rose to the challenge and managed after much haggling to convince Dairy Farmers to allow us to bring both our Dairy Farmers contracts to the Clover Hill farm. In the first instance this required a $170,000 investment in a new milk vat. We were then able to grow our business, keep the staff we had and employ one more by supplying Parmalat from our Lemon Grove Farm.

This also required the purchase of 100 more cows and the need to grow enough pasture to graze 6 cows to the hectare which is almost three times the industry average. This is very doable in paradise but along came the 1 in 25 year flood with us now finding ourselves 4 weeks behind with pasture sowing and feeding our cows twice a day on bought in feed with the help of the mixer wagon which adds two hours to Michael’s day .

Michael uses the mixer wagon to supplement the milking cows feed when pasture levels are low

We have pushed the boundaries in the last twelve months at all levels and it isn’t just the landscape feeling the pressure. Every night Michael comes in and spends two hours with his knees elevated wrapped in ice doing his best to give everyone who walks in the door that big smile he is so famous for and it breaks my heart to see him in so much pain from the rigors of his job

On Friday some-one on twitter shared this article with me and this breakout piece so resonated with me.

Why don’t farmers retire?

“Agriculture is notorious for having a skewed age structure,” says Dr Matt Lobley, of the Centre for Rural Policy Research, University of Exeter.

“Unlike any other profession, there is not much separation between what somebody does for a living and their whole personality.

“They can literally go outside and walk around the farm and see the products of their labours written into the landscape – in the shape of the walls, the hedges and in the fields.

“It can be very difficult to face up to that time when they have to let go either partially, or fully.

“These farmers are also socially embedded into their communities, and they have an intimate knowledge of the land.

“They understand micro-climates of individual fields – which are the last to warm up, where you get frost pockets or flooding. That knowledge is often under-estimated, even by the farmers themselves.”

My family is proud to farm. We are committed to supplying affordable, nutritious, ethically produced milk to over 50,000 Australian everyday but we cant do it for free

In the words of Louise Fresco “Food is as important as energy, as security, as the environment. Everything is linked together.”

All Australians must value food at its true value and be prepared to pay for it.  Yet we continue to ignore this at our peril and we are denying these young people a future as part of the noblest profession and this wont happen either Julia if we don’t have the farmers to fuel the agribusiness sector.

Stand up Australia and be counted. May I suggest we all start with a signature on this petition to send to the Victorian Government to try & stop the National Centre for Farmer Health from closing.